Rambles

The Bold Type: Starting on Episode Two

Over my last few posts and definitely on Twitter I’ve been hinting at how down I’ve been feeling lately. There’s a lot of things that play into this – dissatisfaction with my current job (not hate mind you, I’m just not feeling satisfied), post college loneliness, and, most recently, some problems have come up with my family that I’m struggling to keep from destroying me. I don’t like feeling down. So I’ve started trying to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I started going to a game group on meetups on Friday nights (best decision I’ve made in a long time). I joined the local library, as I mentioned in my last post, and checked out some books that were recommendations on recommendations on Goodreads. And I’ve been spending more time with my roommate.

My roommate who loves TV. I’d more or less given up on TV for the most part a couple years ago. Sure, I keep up with Modern Family. Yes, I’ve been watching How to Get Away With Murder. Other than that nothing has really caught my attention. Well, live action shows. My love for cartoons shines through my blog I’m sure. Live action, though, has just been so boring to me. Most nights we just end up watching Friends, and we’ve been planning what we’ll watch next. Until today. He didn’t feel like watching Friends, so he put on this show he’s been needing to catch up on.

The Bold Type…Episode 2. We rewound to the pilot after, but I technically started with episode 2. If you don’t start on the pilot, at this point you’ll be fine. And I completely recommend checking out this show.

Three girls in New York. Already a standard, right? They look my age but have to be making 2-3 times what I make and have much better positions than I feel allowed to dream of right now. Long story short I expected to feel bad about this show. Especially because five years ago I wanted what they have. I still wouldn’t be opposed to their current jobs. Especially Jane’s.

Don’t get me wrong – these are pretty, young people (mostly) who have unrealistically amazing lives. But they work really hard for what they have and are deeply invested in their work. It’s actually great seeing people living their dreams. In the third episode Sutton goes all in to get a job she wants. Dangerously, of course. But you know they are always telling us about how we have to take risks to get our dreams. I’m finally coming around to my ‘chase your dreams’ self again and while I haven’t had any fortune so far, these guys definitely give me something to hope for.

Top things I love:

Frank, open discussion on lesbianism. And questioning sexuality…as an adult.And sexuality in general. It definitely has been doing a better job than Sex and the City did. There’s definitely a Sex and the City-esque vibe at times too, though I suppose that’s unavoidable when one third of your main cast is all about her writing and she’s writing at a magazine that’s essentially Cosmo.

More things I love –

  • Adena. I love Adena. I want someone like Adena in my life.
  • As someone who loves looking at beautiful things I love the fashion in this show. A lot of the time it’s fine art on moving bodies.
  • There’s a lot of powerful women in this show. Women who look out for each other and help each other succeed. Women who aren’t getting into cat fights over boys. Women who are dreaming, hoping, and succeeding. Women who have relationships with men but whose story isn’t written by the men.

Some general comments:

Jane is kind of incredibly lucky. Her boss wants her to do well and is willing to put in the effort to help her do well. Going back to the pilot just reinforced this – Jane is a new writer and is falling short, so boss lady pulls her for a meeting to get her to break out of her need to please. Or, well, to find out if she’s going to be a risk taker or a safe writer. And then keeps encouraging her through the following episodes. And her boss doesn’t care that she and her friends are hanging out in the fashion closet after work. Seriously. Jane. I want your job. Please. Please tell me your secrets. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my boss. She does root for us too, she just doesn’t have the leeway that Jacqueline does since she’s not top boss.)

Actually all of them have great-looking jobs right now. I know these are TV jobs but they have so much freedom to go after things they’re passionate about – like chasing after the photographer. During the day. I assume during work hours.

But I’ve gone on and on about their jobs. There’s so many topics they’ve addressed in the first three episodes of this show that are things we’ve needed to have addressed. Some things, yes, have been poked at periodically already (such as sexuality), but there’s others that we don’t have addressed as often and certainly aren’t talked about in such a realistic way. Things like harassment on Twitter. Something tons of people go through – something most of those people are brushed off for having an issue with. Hint: The characters take this seriously. When a character is doxxed the show doesn’t tell her she’s just being sensitive and they give solid advice for her to get through it (and the show also quietly gives advice that’s not outright spoken – like blocking the trolls and engaging with the people who are supporting you). It probably helps that she has her company behind her. Most people don’t have that. A lot of people are on their own once these things happen.

…I really want their boss. Actually, let me add that now as an amendment to the jobs discussion above: Bosses all over this country need to study and learn from Jacqueline on what it means to be a good boss. Taking care of your employees doesn’t mean you’re pandering or that the work quality is going to suffer. It’s actually probably going to significantly improve because those employees will know they can rely on you and trust in you.

Ok. I swear. No more about their jobs. Let’s switch gears to something completely different.

It may be too soon to make judgement calls on the relationships in this show. So far it’s been a great look at various types. One girl has a great thing going on with one of her seniors – it’s dangerous and could ruin her but they seem to really care for each other. He encourages her to follow her dreams and keeps an ear out on other positions in the company as to how they’re going. When she asks for actual dates he asks her out on a date. I know something is bound to go wrong at some point but so far they’re beautiful.

The other two are a bit more exploratory. One is just starting a relationship, specifically with someone she was sure she didn’t like previously, and the other is the one that’s questioning her sexuality since someone in the first episode threw her for a loop. I am rooting for her. Even if they don’t get together as a couple their dynamics are amazing and so real to me. Granted I was in sixth grade when I got thrown for that loop, but I suppressed it and avoided the topic until I was an adult. Seeing a strong adult character questioning herself really kind of makes the kid in me feel good. It heals some old emotional injuries.

There’s a lot of sex ingrained in the plot. It’s not usually explicitly talked about and when it is it tends to come up in natural ways. Not that someone who’s a sex article writer wouldn’t have natural excuses to write sex columns…Sorry. Sex and the City was just so forced for me that watching any show try to talk about sex becomes a bit uncomfortable. Until this show. Being Fictional Cosmo, Scarlet is going to have sex talk and of these three episodes, only one has focused on that aspect as one of it’s three plots. That being the plot for the writer being given an assignment to write something about orgasms. I loved her take on it too, but I will let you watch that for yourself. Her other assignments were pitches she made, one being about dealing with exs and the other being a focus on a politician she admires.

They vary her tale. Though relationships and sex are an ongoing undercurrent for her. She starts out dealing with her ex and then flows into a relationship which is just starting up so far. Not so much sex but they do stumble on each other because she’s concerned about sex and says something awkward in an elevator riiiight when the doors open. Cliche, but still fun.

This story is girl-centric. No surprise. All the major characters are female. There’s a couple of supporting men and I did mention that two of the girls are in relationships with men. I’ve already mentioned it twice but it’s about a magazine that’s based on Cosmo, so lots of fashion and girl talk. Now I know boys can’t be boxed up in a one size-fits-all type of show but I also know that a lot of boys avoid girl shows like they avoid chick flicks. But unlike your average chick flick this girl show has substance that I really hope men will notice and watch and not pigeonhole themselves right out of this show. And for everyone else who’s already ok with these shows – give this one a chance. Watch it. So far this show feels so good and does so well with handling great subjects and from the looks of things it’s only going to get better.

Rambles

Reading. Post-School.

Aside from my hopes of going to graduate school, I’m pretty much done with school now. That’s an uncomfortable feeling for me on its own since school is all I’ve ever known. Literally. We throw toddlers at school and they don’t emerge until their 20s these days. If then. I mean, anyone in my age group is already familiar with the ‘ten years of experience or masters degree’ for supposedly entry level jobs problem.

I really don’t want to get into that mess though. Instead I’ll focus on another sad fact I’ve realized this year: Reading as an adult is super hard. When I was a kid I could blow through five to seven books a week. I don’t mean little kid books either – I was reading chapter books younger than the teachers seemed to be pushing them. Alongside the easy little books, of course. I was killer during reading contests at school.

Then, like so many avid readers, I followed the path of reading less for pleasure and more and more for classes. In high school it wasn’t really an issue. About the only book I didn’t like or find easy to understand was Catcher in the Rye. Get all your hate out now, I still don’t like that book. I recognize it’s great and you are welcome to like it. I don’t. Anyway, when books are easy there’s room to wiggle around and check out other stuff. Plus there was always a lot of down time because I was that nerdy kid that finished tests early. In college there was a fair bit less time and a lot more books that weren’t particularly easy. Plus there wasn’t exactly spare money to buy books. I mean there was a library but I definitely always had an excuse not to go.

I guess I just never had to go out of my way to really seek out books. They had always just been there. When we went shopping there were the books, and I could grab one and take it home. The school library was nestled right between my English, History, and Math classes. I didn’t have to go off my usual path to find a book. As soon as I was presented with a challenge I crumpled. Don’t get me wrong – I did find a lot of books during college that I loved. I still have a bunch of them on my shelves now. But I became even lazier about books.

It’s almost like I’ve forgotten how to find the good ones. I know I’ve become pickier, and I know a lot of the stuff I used to like doesn’t even catch my eye anymore. I also know that there’s a personal level of struggle. A full time job I don’t really like, a social life I have to really work for if I want to have anyone to talk to at all let alone find anyone to potentially date, all those darn adult responsibilities like grocery shopping and waiting at the DMV. Technically I guess there’s time at the DMV. If I have a book to read.

I bought a whole bunch of books last year, then promptly didn’t read them. Most of them proved to be a bit heavier than I could handle (such as stories dealing with depression). I still want to read them. But now still is not a good time for those kinds of books. Actually those books are probably an even worse idea now than they were last year.

So now I’ve been a bit stuck in a new place – hunting around for books that spark my interest, even remotely, and hoping that I’ll find it in myself to read them. Part of my tactic has been joining Goodreads and going back through books I used to like and trying to branch from there and hoping something will re-ignite. While I do remember why I loved them and can still appreciate those feelings, I think I’ve changed too much now Though there are a few books that came up as recommended on those which look promising. They just aren’t available at my local library. So I went to the next level of recommendations to find a few that were. These ones weren’t quite as intriguing but pickiness is part of the problem.

Writers need to read. They need to know their genre and they need to learn from the pool of other writers. What worked, what didn’t. What sparks the imagination and makes the reader hope for more. Writers are readers who took it to the next level.

I have checked out four books from my library. It gives me both some free reading material and a deadline to read them by (August 8th at this moment). Right now I’m finding it intensely difficult. It’s been five days and I’ve read a third of the first book. Most of that reading happened in the last 24 hours. This is a start. In between that reading I’ve also managed to do my job, write a little, go to a local game night meet-up (which I super recommend – meetups are great for finding things that are going on so you don’t have to put in the effort of planning something out yourself, especially when you feel completely drained), and dealing regularly with all the emotional baggage I’m dealing with but am not going to be sharing with the public. Oh, plus the exhaustion. So much exhaustion. Great for those days when you know you need to sleep but there’s not enough hours to get everything done.

The point I want to get at, I suppose, is that we need to keep trying to read. Make a stop at the library, find something that seems interesting, give it a try. Please also don’t get mad at yourself for being a busy adult. I played that role for several months there and there’s certainly a lot of shame that goes around the internet for aspiring writers who don’t read, but have a bit of sympathy for yourself. We, at least in America, are set up on an 8-8-8 schedule. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for ‘play’ (which includes lunch breaks at work as well as time commuting to and from work), and 8 hours for sleep. Plus two days off on the weekend if we’re fortunate. In between all that we still have to take care of our basic needs as well as spend a bunch of time preparing food – if we’re trying to be healthy that is – and squeeze in that social time I mentioned above to help prevent total insanity. And, oh, we still have to be writing. Don’t forget writing, all you hopeful writers out there. Or hopeful editors, proofreaders, professionals of any sort. Writing can boost just about any career because it can put your name out there in great ways.

I don’t have the answer for how to squeeze in reading. Most of the time these last two years my main reading sources were short news articles or listicles or something that could easily be squeezed into 15 or fewer minutes a day. I’m hoping that these varying experiments of mine will yield some results. If they do, I will write a part 2 sharing them with you. But in the meantime you should try experimenting too. Read a chapter a day. Pick up an old classic you loved and re-read it. Pick up a new book you’ve been dying to try. Definitely spend some time going through Goodreads and making a list for yourself of everything that sounds interesting. Even if it’s a book written for a different age group. I personally really want to read the How to Train Your Dragon books one to see how truly different they are from the movies and two to see first hand if they’re something my nieces and nephews might enjoy.

Enjoy yourself. Reading is supposed to be a good thing for enjoyment, not a chore.

Rambles

So I saw Spiderman!

So everyone’s of course talking about the latest greatest Marvel movie. Ah so many great videos that I haven’t been able to watch because oh boy are there some interesting things that I could spoil you on if you haven’t already run into them. The obligatory twist in the third act even managed to surprise my roommate, and he’s watched so much TV and so many movies that he knows every cliche set up no matter how anyone tries to disguise it.

First, in case you missed it or want to see it again, here’s the trailer to hype you up:

I may talk in spoilers. Just…a warning. I’ll try very hard to omit anything vital but if you don’t want anything at all ruined for you then, well, you probably aren’t reading this because you’ve probably avoided the trailers (which are always fair game discussion in these sorts of things) because you already know trailers always betray most of the most important parts of the movie anyway.

Let’s just start here: Tom Holland is Spider-Man. He’s perfect. I don’t know what he’s like in real life since I’ve never hung out with the guy, but his performance was equal parts dorky, innocent, hopeful, excitable…He’s a regular teenager. There’s still the trademarks – he’s unpopular, smart, on the ‘outskirts’ of the social sphere. Outskirts less in the sense of the cliques as defined by Mean Girls and more in the actual social sense of it. He’s dorky, but only one cheerleader ever seemed to have a problem with that. There was a guy who picked on him but that guy wasn’t really not dorky himself. Then there’s the popular girl Peter had a crush on who is both super popular and dreaming of winning the Academic Decathlon. Which was a great juxtaposition to what was going on in Peter’s life – while her biggest goal and idea for what constituted a secure future was winning a competition in high school. For most people that’s completely accurate, but put up along side Peter’s problems it seems so stupidly small.

I don’t know what high school was like in the 90s, which Mean Girls and all the others that came after it were raised on, but I do know for sure what High School was like around 2010. This is much more accurate. People are multi-dimensional, have lots of interests, and the rich kids tend to be the ones that get the most attention, but they aren’t all assholes. Or being a jerk isn’t their only trait. So, yeah, teenagers being humans was refreshing.

I also liked Tony. I definitely saw reviews where people lamented the excessive use of Iron Man but I thought that was a pretty good way of working it in. Or maybe I just like seeing Tony Stark act like a dad. I do love a good dad-like character (Stoick’s relationship with Hiccup is half the reason I watch How to Train Your Dragon at least once a year). He’s such a great mentor and it really builds on his arc over the previous movies.

Could they have made better use of him? Yeahh, they could have. He was also fully responsible for the second act conflict. Not to spoil anything but if he had literally just revealed slightly more information then the problem would have been mostly solved. The bad guys might still have gotten desperate enough to go for what became the grand finale and if Peter had known more in the second act then he might not have been there for the final act, but just as a person to person thing I had to stop myself from scolding Mr. Stark in the theater.

Yeah, I talk to movies. I try not to do it in the theater but at home I see nothing wrong with yelling at a stupid character for doing something stupid. Or a smart character for doing something kinda dumb. But also I can forgive Tony because that’s who he is in all the other movies he pops up in. Still. Some common sense there buddy. You’re talking to an overzealous teenager. ‘No’ is only going to make him want it more.

(And want it more he totally did. But you can see what came of that just by watching the trailer.)

Other things I’ve seen people take umbrage with:

  • No spidey sense. Yeah, ok. Real spiders don’t have any super sense like that either. It’s a classic trait sure but it wasn’t really missed. Although your mileage on this one may vary depending on how make-or-break it that is for you. (And how much you like his high-tech Stark Industries spider suite.)
  • Young Aunt May. Like, hot young Aunt May. I do love my sweet grandma Aunt May but from what I can tell her age has actually usually varied. She does seem more of an older sister/friend for Peter than a guardian at times, but when she’s being a guardian she’s a great one.
  • A certain character’s skin color just because of her skin color. No, not the love interest. Those comments are just racist. Yes she’s usually white. So what. Plenty of not usually white characters were turned white for movies. The ‘strongest’ argument I’ve heard has been the ‘they just did it for the shock value’ and…that’s not a strong argument. That’s a stupid argument.
  • That same certain character’s personality/actress. Now this I can understand better. My roommate doesn’t like the actress’ acting. K. The personality – yeah I can get that bugging people too. I liked her because she reminded me of someone I knew in high school. Like, to a T. Yeah the character direction they went in is just as over done as the damsel in distress was before. But she played it in a way that wasn’t as forced as it usually is. Then there’s also how she’s nothing like the pre-established character in any way, and if you like that character then yeah, that’s a very valid reason not to be excited. For me, it’s not really important. A name is a name. I like this girl. I want to see what happens with her.
  • These movies are becoming like the comic books – you have to see all of them to get any of them individually. Seeing at least all the main Iron Man movies + Civil War will help you with Tony, but this isn’t Tony’s story. Everything that’s pertinent to Peter’s story gets recapped for you. Though I definitely think it was better for me because I’ve seen Civil War and all of Tony’s development throughout that. Oh, they do name drop the Avengers. Know who they are, I guess?
  • No Spider-Man origin story. Do we really need that again?
  • Peter loses a lot. Yeah. He’s fifteen. Fifteen year olds in general are at a disadvantage due to lack of life experience. He’s also new to super hero-ing. All the superheroes made mistakes when they first gave it a shot. And he’s just a kid.

A lot of reviews have been calling this the best Spider-Man movie yet. Yeah. I can agree with that. The writing is solid, the acting is solid, the casting is perfect, the character arcs were amazing. I already said this was the best Peter Parker we’ve had in movie form. The villains were deep and had multi-dimensions. They had a twist at the end that even managed to surprise my roommate. Nothing surprises my roommate. He almost always calls all twists or character arcs or what’s about to happen well in advance just because he’s so well versed in TV and movies. Of course, there are reasons he didn’t guess at the twist that are deeply rooted problems in American culture. But it still surprised him.

It wasn’t what I wanted though. I will say it was the best in all ways, I just…maybe it’s just me right now, and if I re-watch it at another time I’ll like it more. Through the first half of this movie, though, all I really wanted was to watch the super goofy 2002 movie again. I will not say that movie is better in any way, but right now that’s more the kind of movie I want to see. That does not mean this isn’t the greatest one. Just with everything going on in the world I kind of really want to see Spider-Man beat down on a stupid rich guy who’s only in it for the riches. This villain wasn’t in it just for the riches – he was in it because he felt beaten down by society and the government and like the superheroes weren’t actually out to save average people like him but also to take care of his family and give them a great life.

So maybe if I re-watch this movie at a different time I’ll be able to appreciate it more, but I can say I am kind of grateful we have the other ones too. Just in case we’re looking for a different kind of Spider-Man movie. Well, except for Spider-Man 3. That movie’s just total crap. Stupid emo Peter.

Actually I’m probably just going to watch How to Train Your Dragon now. Thanks a lot Tony Father-Figure Stark.

 

Oh, and I swear if there was one thing I took away from this movie it was that I would hate hate hate to buy car insurance there. They have got to have superhero damage insurance or something. So many cars were completely destroyed or otherwise lost to the ocean. Nooooo thank you. I can barely afford the part of a car I’m paying for now. Of course I have heard that owning a car in New York is a sign of richness? I always hear about how most people don’t have cars because it’s a complete waste of money. So maybe the average person that Peter accidentally screwed over is just normally rich enough for it to not be a big deal. Or maybe Tony had the cars salvaged and fixed, who knows.

Rambles

Finally! The MLP Movie Trailer is out!

So this dropped recently:

I admit, I, like many, have been feeling a bit less enthused about the amazing cartoon about toys that could lately. I’m still keeping an eye on it but I’m not as excited as I was, say, even just last year at this time. This season hasn’t been bad, necessarily, it just seems like it’s been 20% less interesting than it used to be. I don’t know if its me or them (ok I’m pretty sure it’s mostly them because I still really enjoy earlier seasons). And I know, I know, it’s a show for little girls. But I also saw someone point out that the little girls this show was first written for are driving cars now. Yeah, this show has been around that long at this point.

‘Bout time we got a movie!

An actual movie. Not Equestria Girls. Those are cute, but they’re you’re typical made-for-a-tv-show movie. No no no, this movie is different. It’s big. It’s flashy. They completely changed the animation from the show for it.

The characters are still recognizable, sure, but they’re definitely a lot rounder. Not in the ‘they put on some weight’ way but they just aren’t as angular as they can be in the tv show. Their motions are so much smoother and their expressions are so much bigger and yet also far more subtle at the same time. You can easily spot traditional animation rules as you watch the trailer, like the over-exaggerated head turn one pony does right before the bad guys pop in. I’m sure they do it in the show plenty, but it was just so obvious that I actually noticed it in the trailer. I’m horrible at noticing things guys. Absolutely terrible. Watching tv shows is always a surprise even when the plots are coming miles away. (Sorry, I might be a little bit jaded that my roommate kept calling Steven Universe twists episodes before they happened. Without having looked them up. There was only one he didn’t guess and that was just because he didn’t think the show would go there because it was a cartoon.)

If you go back to my first post, you’ll see that one of the things I love is beautiful animation. It’s moving, inspiring art for me. I don’t care if it’s ‘for little kids’ – I deeply appreciate a beautifully animated movie. This trailer made me realize something else though. I’ve been missing something in this new trend. It’s something that I’d forgotten I was missing too.

3D animation is amazing, sure, but it can’t offer the same things is gorgeous 2D animation. There’s something in 2D that just can’t be replicated, and it’s something that I’ve been missing in the immense dry spell we’ve had since The Princess and the Frog. Yes, the Let it Go animation sequence made me gasp at the beauty, Hiccup and Toothless’s first flight together almost gave me those roller-coaster butterflies from how lovely they were, and of course I have previously mentioned how Judy’s arrival in Zootopia is completely awe-inspiring every time I re-watch it (though I’d love to see it on a giant screen again because omg it just feels so huge on the big screen). I think Tangled, though, was the closest to capturing that 2D…thing. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it’s something special. And this movie looks like it’s going to have it.

And I have conflicted feelings about that fact. I already mentioned that they don’t look the same. It’s not that they look bad, but they look different enough from their show counterparts that the first thought I had after the trailer was ‘oh, that was bizarre.’ It’s kind of like the new voice cast for the new Duck Tales show. Yeah, they’re great. It’s just jarring to see (or, in the case of Duck Tales, hear – those ‘boys’ sound like teenagers at least!). Basically, it’s not going to be a deal breaker. Like I said, what is shown in the trailer is simply beautiful. It’s just different. Which takes a moment to adjust to.

The story looks a bit standard – someone wants to take over their kingdom, its up to our scrappy heroes to stop them. It also just so happens that one of our heroes this time is one of the rulers of this land fighting to take back her country for her people (and the other three rulers are, as usual, not in the hero’s party which means they probably got captured…again…which doesn’t personally bother me but I foresee a fair few more jokes about Princess Celestia failing to be a goddess in our future if this is the case). Not sure how the merponies and the merpony-ification of the mane six are going to fit in, but they got Kristen Glinda-the-Super-Singer Chenowith to voice the underwater princess so I almost don’t care. Apparently there’s an important giant windmill. Oh, and lots of hugs. Hugs are important as they are the backbone of most friendships. (Disclaimer: If your friend is a hands off sort of friend then hugs might not be as important; actually, in that case the absence of hugs might be more important.)

I also just realized that we see both the merponies and some interaction with the pirate, but the kitty cat I’ve been most excited for only shows up in some background shots. The Sia pony (I know, she has a name, but I’m gonna struggle to remember that when she’s literally pony Sia) even got some interaction time. Still, they did cram a lot into this trailer, the more I rewatch it. Some things had to be cut both for time and secrecy. Who wants to see a movie that they’ve already seen via trailer?

Oh wait we totally do that all the time with our movies and show the final plot twist right in the trailers…Hopefully the final twist wasn’t in this trailer. If there is a final twist. Honestly I also rather miss straightforward stories that don’t necessarily have final plot twists. Everyone does twists these days, so it’d be more original not to twist it up.

Honestly, all in all it looks like it’s gonna be great. It might not be the best movie ever made, but it really looks like it’s most likely going to be a fun adventure that will stick with kids. For adults, I predict something similar to the show – it’s going to bring joy. I mean, that’s why I watch the show. So I can see something happy. Something bright and cheerful with a guaranteed happy ending. Goodness knows there’s enough darkness in the world right now we could all use some sunshine.

Rambles

Part 2 – Alternatives to killing a character when that character’s death is super problematic.

[Since I’m talking about character deaths here, there will be spoilers ahead.]

So, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t think about the flip side to my recent post about character death. It’s a rough topic to tackle when that character is some form of minority or typically oppressed person, even if they aren’t the only one of their ‘type’ (or one of the only pair, as is often the case in LGBT deaths these days). It’s also an emotional topic that will carry immense weight with the audience and the characters in the story, for good or for ill, no matter which character ends up filling this role. Well, I guess except red shirts. They still get remembered, but not usually because of their impact on the plot.

Yet even red shirts tend to come forth with the same goal – to shock everyone, to shift the story, and to prove that this is serious stuff. This isn’t some Disney war where only the badduns end up axed (actually, even Disney has killed a few main protagonists at this point). Now, of those three reasons, ‘shock value’ might often be the one that angers the most fans, but shock value does turn into numbers. The biggest one for me, though, is the second. A drastic shift in the story. There’s a reason the mentor almost always dies on the hero’s journey. Nothing is going to change ye younge chosen one more than losing the person who got them where they are, and now they have to strike out on their own. Or in bigger ensemble pieces, we have the loss of friends, comrades, and family to turn a once innocent child into a would-be mercenary.

But, haven’t we seen quite a lot of that lately?

Sure, death is a great motivator and a character’s death will most definitely draw attention (there is, after all, no such thing as bad press, which becomes more true every day it seems). Somehow, though, it seems like almost every show puts this into play. Even shows that don’t have to go there find some way to go out of their way to go there. Big names like Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire have set a bit of a standard for our dramas over the last several years. Even some comedies will go there if they want to be dramatic. Or sometimes they’ll go there even when they aren’t looking to be dramatic and it’ll create some of the most bizarre death episodes I’ve ever seen:

They put a laugh track over it. It’s just…so bizarre. Granted I don’t know much about Seinfeld since I never really liked it. (I also never particularly liked Friends – you may burn me at the stake later.) So maybe in the context of the whole overall show if you watch everything, maybe that scene isn’t as weird as I find it to be.

(Did you think I was going to talk about how she died? I mean, death by envelope licking is bizarre too, but knowing that it was probably the goal of the show to be as ridiculous as possible makes me care less about that than I do about how they addressed it. Besides, it is theoretically possible, even if it’s not probable.)

Those articles I linked up there talk about the whole thing much more eloquently than I’d be able to, being a barely semi-TV watcher at best, but it can all be summed up with a simple “Is death in general overdone?” Death is kind of losing it’s poignancy. A lot of people I talk to say they might not even bother with a show that’s just going to kill a ton of characters because why should they? Though there’s still many who are glued to Game of Thrones and others like it trying to pick who will die next like it’s some kind of game. So there’s that I suppose.

Of course I’m not talking about mass death in a story. I’m talking about one death – One very important character causing a very pivotal turn of events. Since it’s literature, there’s no issue of finding a way to fit or remove someone into or out of a ten year long show, there’s no fear of an actor leaving. There’s just me and the story.

Which leaves me with the biggest of all the burning questions: Is this story necessary?

I have a story with a character whom I love but who’s death would propel the story to all sorts of new levels that it will not be able to reach with her alive. Sure it could reach other levels, but are those levels that I want to explore? Are those levels strong enough? Are the plots where she dies strong and important enough? I asked why the writers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to go with the Tara’s-death-for-Dark-Willow plot, or why they had to do Dark Willow at all. I’ve seen a lot of people noting that in retrospect Dark Willow was one of the strongest arcs for everyone’s favorite lady-loving witch in their opinions but Tara’s death still stands out as a shot to the heart for many, many people. Myself included. That moment still bugs me to this day. And yet I find myself considering something that could be similarly painful for others in my own story.

So, given my own history and the history of an audience that I would love to garner the respect of, and given my feelings of ‘sure it might be great, but did that story have to be told?’ Is my plot absolutely necessary – isn’t there somewhere else I can go?

With that on my mind, I’ve been trying to make a list of alternatives. You know, actually trying to be creative. Try something different from what has become common place. And…well, I’ve felt that my efforts are really lackluster. Not all in part because the options seem all that bad to me but because when I look at my vast knowledge of various movies, shows, books, and so on, I remember how I feel about options similar to these and…well, they’re not amazing ways to handle things, unless they’re handled really well, and I have more faith that I could handle a death correctly than make one of these versions into a strong story.

Taking out the option of not removing any of the main cast from the story (I’m sorry, the story would just be too by-the-numbers if they stay an intact group the whole way through) there are some various contenders.

The weakest, to me, is the death-but-come-back arc. Every time I think of someone dying and coming back, I think of the Swan Princess III. Sure, it happened in the first Swan Princess movie, but that one was actually kind of sweet and slightly sensible (the bad guy who had cast a spell on her died, so she un-died). The third one, though, had her come back via the burning of papers. She literally came out of the smoke. Which, I suppose, kind of is a Greek God way to come back to life, but it was just so horrible that even child-me rolled my eyes. On another hand, I think of shows who did it a bit better, like Buffy and Steven Universe.

The key thing to those two is that it wasn’t the finale. The heroes didn’t save the day and get rewarded with someone coming back to life. The resurrections in both of those cases were the beginnings of brand new plots. In my case, I need someone out of the way until after the main plot ends. Maybe they could make it back just in time for the finale, but any sooner and it would bring me back to square one. I am Swan Princess territory on this one, so it’s just a no-go.

This also eliminates similar ideas, such as her ‘spirit being magically shattered across the vast multi-verse’ or being turned to stone. Though I’m still considering the stone one as a back up back up idea if I can come up with a way for it to not run into the frustrations mentioned above.

On the flip side of having the group and eliminating one of them, there’s the option to eliminate the relationship, but…that’s problematic in a different way. To avoid killing a lesbian character, I decided not to put her in any relationship at all? Yeah. That’s the other extreme and part of the comeback that tends to anger me the most when writer’s kill minority characters. (“Well if we can’t treat them like every other character, then we might not write them at all!” completely ignoring that certain types of characters tend to hold the immunity stick while these characters get axed.) From a purely story perspective, I just don’t like it. It’s not a plot that I as a writer want to pursue.

There is the option of having them all be together, then taking their happiness away from them. That keeps them all alive, has them together, and leaves the option for them to get back together. I’m keeping this one on the table, but…I will admit, it’s one of those ones that I don’t think I’ll do very well. I’ll either make the break up so good it won’t make sense for them to get back together or it will be so lame that everyone will hate it. I don’t have faith in myself. But lack of faith doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try, so that’s why it’s not eliminated from my list of options.

There’s a plethora of other no-kill options, like kidnapping and/or brain washing. It works well enough with Bucky (The Winter Soldier), but it can also fall flat very quickly. There’s also the option of possession, which is similar to brain washing but another entity has taken over and is forcing one to do their will. The story I’m writing is not without it’s possession stories either, so in theory she could fit right in. The problem with these choices, though, is that they aren’t strong enough for the story. Large chunks of the plot and character development would have to be completely erased because the protagonist would not hold as much of the blame in the eyes of the other characters and everyone would have a goal to work towards to get the lost character back. Hope and determination are powerful motivators.

There’s one more that I’ve been toying with. It both hurts and makes sense – kill someone else in the group. Leave the leading lady and her wifey-poo alone, and kill one of the other two. The other two are both siblings to the wife, so it keeps the emotional turmoil. While it strips some layers I really want to explore (either the sister or the brother and their entire plot, since, you know, one of them would be dead), it does shift the death to someone else that’s a bit less of a minority. It adds an entirely new layer where the protagonist bears the responsibility for leading her wife’s beloved sibling to their death, and the wife could also take on some of the original plot plans from the character that died. They’re not interchangeable by a long shot, but losing a family member you care deeply about is a big enough push to cause some character changes.

This is probably the most plausible option, but…I still don’t like it. What I have planned for the protagonist, the brother, and the sister are all plots that I’ve come to adore. If I can get them to paper the way I see them in my head, I’m fairly certain people wouldn’t feel that their stories weren’t worth it. Of course, then my thoughts always circle back to Tara. I bet her writers probably felt the same way. That their story had to be told, that it was best for the plot. That it made everything that came after it worth it. I know mine won’t be worth it to many people. It never could be. At this point, I really just want it to be worth it to me. Is what I would lose, with any of these scenarios, worth the gains?

I don’t have the answers right now. I’ve kind of been working at other projects while mulling this over, but I don’t have a definite choice yet. The first step, I suppose, is just actually doing something. Then we’ll see how things go from there.

Rambles

Tips for Detoxing After Finishing an Amazing Show

So I did both the greatest and worst thing for myself last week – I re-watched Avatar the Last Airbender. This show was first airing while I was in middle school and high school, and even back then it was immensely special to me. There was something extraordinary about it, even if I couldn’t put my finger on just why I loved the show. Was it all the shades of gray? The heavy topics? Oh, no wait. That’s why I still love it to this day. Nah, back then I loved it for the world-traveling adventure aspect. I do love me some globe-trotting.

For anyone who hasn’t watched Avatar either because they were witness to that-movie-which-shall-not-be-named or because it was a cartoon on Nickelodeon or they thought they were too old for that kind of thing – you’re not. It’s a very adult story, and the finale is almost…spiritual. Which is why it’s so hard to watch it. I am always excited to get to the end, even more so now that I know what happens, oddly enough. I mean I couldn’t wait to find out how things went down before, but now I go back to revisit those feelings. And those feelings can be hard to revisit. Like I said, it can be a very adult story. There are a large number of heavy topics addressed right at the beginning and they just keep building on each other.

But I’m going to try to keep from getting on an Avatar tangent, especially since this isn’t the tale that’s left me feeling a bit adrift in the best possible way when I finished it. The Hunger Games trilogy did the same thing, for example. Harry Potter had similar feelings but that was more because it was seven books that I’d spent years with coming to an end than it was crash streaming an entire story in a week (or less). Heck, one time I wrote a fanfic that really took a toll on my emotions and that needed some detoxing after finishing. Fanfiction! And these are just the ones that got to me – I’m sure you have your own that leave you staring at the ceiling for a good ten minutes before you can continue on with your own non-that life.

Conclusions are hard. Not the writing of them, though that is infamously difficult as well. They can be hard to cope with for the consumer no matter how satisfying they are. The end of a great story can be both welcomed and dreaded. These characters you love are going off into their sunset. Sometimes there will be sequels, or comic book continuations (thank you creators of Avatar!), but oftentimes we’re just left there with the end of the story.

How do we deal?

(Keep in mind this is my advice based on what works for me – you are your own person so if this isn’t your style then you do you.)

Well, you might start by staring at the ceiling.

No, seriously. If your initial feeling at the end of a show or book is to just lay there and stare at the ceiling or the wall or otherwise just stop functioning for a minute – do that. Let it sink in. Mull in those emotions. Embrace all the feels for good and for bad.

You might not necessarily stare off into space. When I finished the Hunger Games I got up and did the dishes. I had to do something with my hands after that. But I didn’t speak. I didn’t play music or put on a movie or tv show. I just did dishes in silence and let all the confusion and anger and sadness and happiness and longing and…all the things I both expected and didn’t expect.

Basically, take some time without interacting with other media to milk it all up.

A good second step might be to reach out to others who have also reached this point.

Yes, I highly recommend waiting at least a few minutes before popping onto Twitter or Reddit and freaking out about it. Now I am talking about the things that have hit you the deepest. Sure maybe you just binged on Friends and completed the whole ten seasons – good for you, that’s a pretty amazing feat! – but that last shot of the door was just an ‘eh, ok’ moment. That’s what it was for me. I finished Friends and I was fine. It was a nice show but it wasn’t one that dug deep into my spirit. Or maybe you were like a super fan and that door left you crying and empty.

If you’re the me type in this scenario, then step one might not be vital, but if you’re like the second type – or the me with Avatar – then diving right into socializing could mess with the appreciation of the feels. For me, diving in too quickly can become almost abrasive and overwhelming.

But after an appropriate amount of time has passed, talking about it with others might be just what the doctor ordered. After all, there are probably loads of other fans who are feeling the same way you are. If it’s been years since the show came out it might be harder to find current places to talk about it, but strong fandoms still exist for the weirdest things. You never know what you might find. And, if all else fails, at least you can blast your feelings to the echo-chamber that is Twitter.

Make some Fanstuffs

If you’re the type, write something or draw something or knit something in honor of the story you’ve finished. If not, maybe indulge in something someone else made. Pretty much every story that is out there has fanart and fanfiction at a minimum. The more popular (or the more diverse the fandom) the more other stuff you might have access to in order to satisfy the new hole in your soul.

Seek out something more!

I mentioned a few points up that many of these things have something else that ties in. Sometimes that something else isn’t worth the gum stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe (stupid Shyamalan butchering a good story with his stupid movie) but other times you might find something great. Avatar the Last Airbender got a truly epic sequel series in the Legend of Korra. I personally didn’t like it as much, but that’s not because it wasn’t great. I just liked the dynamics and story of the original better. The sequel is just as if not more heavy than the first though. Like, they get into some really questionable territory there. Plus Korrasami (the little ship that could between the two leading ladies of the show) paved the way for more queer characters in cartoons. Gotta love it for that alone.

Unfortunately strong sequels are hard to find. I mean, just look at the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The first movie was lots of fun. It was a sharp decline downhill after that. So you might have to settle for finding something else – and there in lies the hardest part. Things like the Hunger Games have easy alternatives, considering dystopias are a popular topic right now. Things like, oh, I dunno, Lost? That was popular right? That might be harder to replace. Friends didn’t have a hard impact on me because there’s tons of friends-in-the-big-city shows. I swear it has it’s own genre. Avatar has a deep impact because it’s really the only show of its kind. Without the comics I don’t know where I’d be.

Probably writing fanfiction. Well, probably not, since I’m not that into writing fanfics anymore, but in high school I probably would have churned out a ton of fanfics.

Rewatch. Maybe.

My roommate has watched the entirety of How I Met Your Mother at least three or four times in the last year. It kind of worries me sometimes. At the very least it’s a constant annoyance considering said roommate always sings along with the opening (and said roommate is pretty much completely tone deaf).

I don’t necessarily encourage this since it can get you stuck in one place. You gotta find something else at some point. But maybe re-watching it once in short order might be valid – especially if it was a twisty-turny show with a lot of late reveals and you’re going back to see what you missed before. And, of course, there’s also the option to re-watch years later and start this whole process all over again. Like I did. Ugh why did I do that.

(JK I know why I did it. The four-part finale gets me every time and I love that set-adrift feeling I have as it pans up to the final credits.)

Watch/read something else.

This hearkens a bit to the ‘seek out something more’ but I want to encourage you to maybe go in a completely different direction, especially if you need to be able to function and functionality has been eluding you a bit. Case in point: After I finish this I’m going to go crash-stream some Good Mythical Morning. It’s a YouTube show where two fun guys do and talk about some weird topics. They once ate a bacon ice cream bar. They’ve also tested out eating things like bark and bricks. They’ve also talked about everything from supervolcanos to haunting to weirdest houses to the weirdest nail art.

They’ve basically the exact opposite of a show that I’ve invested my emotions into. It’s lighthearted fun that keeps things moving along.

If YouTube isn’t your jam, maybe pick up the funnies (or google them, since newspapers aren’t common these days). Something that can be gobbled up in quick succession and that can be put down fairly easily. It’ll create a break between the high-investment thing you just finished and the next high-investment thing you might want to get into.

Make something completely new.

This is primarily geared towards the creative types since they’re the ones who regularly write and draw and knit and whatever. But it also applies to anyone with a passion. I had a professor in college who wrote her doctorate dissertation on something she felt passionate about: James Bond. I didn’t actually read it, but she told us about how she’d definitely gotten some side-eye from people before they actually gave it a chance. I mean, she did get her doctorate so obviously someone found it doctorate-worthy.

I used a short story that I love (The Yellow Wallpaper – it’s ten pages, you have no excuse to not read it since it’s public domain, so go read it) to discuss something that concerns me: Solitary Confinement. It’s torture, plain and simple, and prisons use it as though it were a time out. They’ll throw just about anyone into solitary, regardless of if they’re dangerous or not. The Yellow Wallpaper comes from a time when women would be given the same treatment as, well, a medical treatment for ‘hysteria.’ I’m a big learn from our past kind of person. They made the mistakes for us, why do we have to keep repeating them? Anyway. I used the confusing feelings I had after finishing that short story (and the even more mushed up feelings I had after our class discussion on it) to turn it into a passionate plea. A non-fiction writing.

I also hope to take all the feelings I have for programs like Avatar and turn them into a passionate book. Hopefully a book series, but I’d be happy to just start with one book.

This is the ultimate form of dealing with conclusions because it takes a lot of work, but it also opens up the doors for other people who are seeking more. There might be someone out there looking for the exact thing you might offer them. Someone out there might need you like you needed the story you just finished. If you have it in you then go out and create.

You really never know who you might inspire.

Rambles

When is a (fictional character’s) death not an indicator of disposability?

I want to write a story. There’s just a huge problem that keeps me from even being able to begin – the story I want to tell involves some controversial issues. I mean, there’s a lot of issues that are widely controversial that I might hit on either on purpose or accident that I’m ok with dealing with, but for the purposeful ones that’s part of the point and for the accidental ones, well, that’s an accident. I’ll try not to do anything accidentally but no human is perfect. This particular issue, though, is one where the audience I specifically want to reach out to and connect with are kind of unlikely to be ok one particular choice, and their opinions are of high importance to me.

The story I want to tell would include the death of a lesbian character.

Now, most people don’t know anything else about me (other than what you might be able to glean from my other posts and the Twits). They definitely don’t know much if anything about this story. But that statement alone without any further information has caused people to immediately treat me as a hostile entity that needs to be educated and stopped, most often because they tend to automatically assume that I am a straight person who doesn’t have a personal history with Dead Lesbian Syndrome.

And don’t get me wrong – I get that. This topic is an ongoing source of deep pain with a long history that has recently been prodded at with a thousand flaming spears. After the events of the last couple of years, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s a lot of people that still, somehow, don’t get why this topic carries so much weight and why it’s so important that the narratives change. I even have automatic defense systems that tries to take over when I talk to people I don’t know about it because I’ve also been bitten and burned by people who just don’t get it. Sometimes it’s stronger than others, depending on the story and current trends.

For example, Sam from Scream Queens was never going to elicit any kind of feeling from me no matter what happened to her or in the greater culture around the episodes she was in since she and most of the cast only existed to fulfill their trope-tastic roles and then die. Everyone I expected to die, died. Everyone I expected to live lived. On all fronts Scream Queens might as well have been called Trope Queens because the show was 90% about taking tropes to 11. It was the most watchable train wreck I’ve seen in years. Sure, despite the it being absolutely atrocious from the get-go, I loved the first season (and gave up halfway through the second out of boredom). But I had no feelings about Sam’s death because I expected everything to be offensively bad from the get-go.

On the flip side, while I don’t follow or care about most TV since it would just take way too much of my time to keep up with all the popular programming out there, even I’m deeply angry and hurt by the number of lesbian and bisexual women killed in very quick succession back in 2016. Even on shows that could justify it I deeply wish some of them just hadn’t. Sadly, though, the majority didn’t even have the excuse of being a vast wasteland where death is probably more common than a good meal. 2017 isn’t looking like it will be much better, though at least they seem to not be killing as many front-and-center characters this season. Since, you know, they’re already dead.

Now, I know those examples are in television. I’m going to talk a lot about TV here even though my goal is to write a novel or ten. TV is far more public and is more easily accessible for a lot of the population than most books, especially books about specific topics that people may have to go out of their way to seek out. After all, not every book can be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings. And the books that do end up that readily accessible tend not to have much in the way of overt LGBT-ness.

Also, though I am ashamed to admit it, I actually haven’t read that much LGBT+ literature. I don’t like romances or books where the primary focus is definitely romance, no matter what it tries to bill itself as, and just by the nature of the topic at hand it can be kind of hard just to find LGBT+ stories that aren’t romances. Beyond that, I don’t have a ton of money, so outside of college most of my reading these last several years has been what I can find or acquire as a free PDF. While that’s great for catching up on classics that are now public domain, it’s not so good for following current trends. So please forgive me for sticking to easy examples. Before college, there wasn’t a great deal of interaction with LGBT+ media either.

I came from the kind of ‘we don’t talk about those sorts of things here’ environment. It wasn’t even a forcible kind of environment, but one where gayness just did not come up on its own, programs that it occurred on were not watched, probably not due to the gayness explicitly as much as the kind of shows we, as a family, watched didn’t often discuss LGBT+ themes, or when they did it was so sloppily done that I didn’t notice it until I was older. The topic also wasn’t ever brought up on purpose – there was no reason for it to be. Since popular media for most of my life shunned gayness outright, it just wasn’t a hard topic to avoid. In fact, outside of a few phrases thrown out by bullies that I should have asked Jeeves about but never really got around to asking, the only person I remember ever addressing gayness was my Freshman Health teacher. He told us that HIV wasn’t just for gay men and left the topic at that. No one seemed surprised by this either because no one, from what I could tell, even knew of that history. It was the mid-2000s. ‘The Gay Cancer’ hadn’t been something HIV was called since before we were born.

Until Queer Eye for the Straight Guy became a popular TV show, literally the only encounter I can recall having with anything even remotely LGBT+ related was a news story I happened to pay attention to in third grade about a little ‘boy’ my age who’s ‘mother made him wear dresses all the time.’ I don’t know if the mom was actually forcing them to wear dresses, I don’t know if it was a choice on the child’s part and she was completely supportive of him in a time where that would be considered child abuse. I didn’t have a developed enough sense of the world around me to even ask those kinds of questions then and since that was 20 years ago and I have no idea what channel it happened on I haven’t been able to actually find any history of that story. I don’t even know if it was something that happened in my childhood state or if it was something they’d picked up to talk about from another state. But the story itself is burned in my mind.

Note: I never actually saw Queer Eye for the Straight Guy until we dissected a scene from it in a media class I took in college. I was aware of its existence though, and I kind of knew what it meant even if I didn’t understand anything about it, which is a weird mental place to try to explain, especially when it’s so hard to even begin to try to comprehend what was going on in my child-brain now that I know so much more.

When I first felt non-straight attractions my immediate reaction was “oh…that’s not right…does this mean I’m a boy?” because that was the logical conclusion at the time. No, I had no idea that trans was a thing either. All I knew was that boys liked girls and there was no deviation from that, at least as far as ‘normal’ people were concerned and for some reason it seemed to me easier to just be a boy than to be a girl who liked girls. Of course, really didn’t want to be a boy because I found boys to be quite gross at that age. Instead, I just told myself ‘hey, someday you’ll grow up and be normal’ and decided to hunker down and wait until that day came. Spoiler alert: that day never came.

Outside of my family and media, the only indications I had as to what gayness was came from school bullies. I’m sure it’s pretty clear that bullies don’t exactly make you feel good about things, which is why Tara and Willow’s relationship from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so important. Buffy wasn’t the kind of show my mom would typically be watching around that time, but I was around the age where I’d tape shows to watch later when she wasn’t home (and choosing what was on TV). Alone I watched a kick-ass girl beat down demons and vampires alongside her friends with possibly one of my favorite wise-elder characters, and alone I saw Willow…start a relationship with a girl. The exact thing that I didn’t know was possible. Willow and Tara made it possible for me.

 I was one of those kids that people like to talk about as being affected by all these lesbian deaths. They were my only positive imagery for years. In the comments section of a lot of articles about last year’s massacre, there are people saying that those who are upset with things are just butthurt. They cite male lgbt+ characters still living in the shows as a reason we shouldn’t be upset. But that misses the point. This is specifically a conversation about girls. Or, rather, a lack of living ladies. For a girl trying to understand herself, that’s rough. It’s already a rough game out there for girls. A female lead outside of romance stories is still very much a novelty, though things have been moving towards evening out with each passing year thanks to the help of stories with multiple protagonists.

Of course, as I said, that’s just our most popular visual media of television. Movies are far, far worse. Literature, though, tends to be a bit better, but that might be due to books not being bound to timetables. They don’t have to fight for a spot on the TVGuide or to be squeezed into at least one of the limited number of showrooms in your local theater. Sure authors hope their books will be put on a shelf where they’ll be noticed and picked up, but there’s nothing to limit the number of books published in a year. Sure, movies can be released outside of theaters, but most people probably aren’t hiking to a film festival just to see something that’s lightly buzzing. We got busy lives, yo. Anyway, there’s a wide range of books. If you want something, I’m sure it’s out there by now. It might not be completely to your liking, but it exists. You can build your own literature bubble and be completely ignorant to trends outside of it very easily. We get one Harry Potter or one Hunger Games every few years. (The sparklepire and fanfic-of-sparklepire books will not be named here, understood?) Everything else is up to you, your tastes, and your willingness and ability to seek out the books that match up to your desires.

That said, the trends are a problem for a reason. When your minority character of whatever type is a disposable token, that sends a subtle message. Each time it happens in every medium the message grows a little bigger. If for every Clexa we had a Britanna maybe things would be different, but unfortunately the numbers are disproportionate. The numbers stay disproportionate for every other group, too, aside from white, straight folks. Well, men in particular, since dying wives (and mothers and daughters) are a good motivator. I mean, it can be such a moving addition to the plot that I want to use it. For my lesbian protagonist. Look, if she wasn’t such a raging lesbian she’d have a dying husband. Either way I want her spouse to be the one who dies.

So…what turns divides the disposable tokens from the moving and meaningful deaths?

They have happened, after all. And I want to write one. Perhaps it’s tied to my own history – the feeling of disposability, the feeling of being brushed aside, ignored, forgotten. I want to challenge the trope and give it meaning. (Though my ability to write is an entirely separate issue and if it turns out to be complete trash I promise I won’t even try to publish. Though you’ll have to bear in mind that ‘complete trash’ is an opinion based descriptor, so we might not be in agreement. But I do promise that I am one of my own harshest critics.)

I want a death story that isn’t a direct slap in the face, where it actually means something. I want to know that the loss of an important character is meaningful, important, that they weren’t a throw-away who ultimately won’t matter. That their loss changed the lives of the characters forever. That they weren’t just there for the shock and drama, they weren’t just removed because their part of the plot was done.

From what I have developed so far, I feel like I meet those parameters. This is a character who could have gone on in the story, she didn’t have to stop there. In a way, it’s both senseless, as any death in real life might be, and a highly meaningful game-changer. I picked the character that was most well-liked and respected by those around her. She’s still learning, but a promising student. The main villain doesn’t have a vendetta against her, she is a casualty in an inherited war. Whose death just also happens to deeply emotionally scar the protagonists. They have to deal with it, find a way to keep living, find a way to continue on together. There are consequences, deserved or not. And all of that is well and good, but whether or not it meets that criteria hinges on two things: will it be written well (I hope!) and is that what other people define as ‘meaningful’?

This is where I start to panic. I’ve gone through so many pages on TV Tropes and read through so many articles trying to figure out how I can write this story without making things worse. One article said that even full-rainbow casts shouldn’t kill LGBT+ women since it adds to the statistics. Now I know I’m not on board with that concept. That limits some potentially poignant stories to not existing since a big part of life is the end of it. That will happen. Others seem to have set criteria, but the criteria can be heavily opinion based. I mean, some things are easy. Only LGBT+ female? Nope. Not even close. Others are difficult to meet. Was it a ‘punishment’ for their happy ending? I mean, I’ll try not to, but they are married. They’ve been in a relationship for some time at this point. They are happily together. Until, well, the reaper pays a visit.

I also know that I cannot get a pass simply for being a lady-lover myself. There are so many stories about women that were written and/or produced or directed by women that are just horrible, misogynistic dribble. It happens. Easily, sometimes, when certain concepts are ingrained in society. Even things that were revolutionary in their own times would be ass-backwards if written today.

So I honestly want to know…where is the line? When is it ok? Will it ever be ok? What will it take to avoid the whole thing being horrible?

I know my own circle isn’t a fair judge. We’re a small slice of the pie. Very small. Like a sliver, at best. For the most part the opinion is ‘as long as I like it, I’m fine with it.’ Which isn’t an easy thing to gauge, because I don’t know everyone. I know the trends show that this isn’t ok right now, and worse is that it’s almost never done well. I also know that there’s no pleasing everyone – but I also also know that when a large enough portion of a group is saying the same thing then maybe it’s worth paying attention to since that’s probably a generally widespread feeling.

And, taking all of that in its own consideration, there’s also the consideration of the author. Why they wanted to tell this story. Drama? No. I mean, there’s no escaping it. It is dramatic. But it’s for the characters and what they have to go through. It’s for the other characters from other media who were butchered for the ratings. It’s for the people who had to patch up themselves as the world again told them that they were just there for the straights.

At the end of the day, no explanation is truly worthy. It’s all excuses. But is it worth it?

For this story, it really seems to be. I’ve thought a lot about what would happen if I didn’t do it. My original plans didn’t include any main character deaths. All of these roads, though, come out a little…weak. It’s just a story about two fantasy kingdoms fighting each other, with ours (the ‘good’ one) being led by relatively inexperienced royals while the other one is helmed by a centuries-old monster who’s been biding their time to ensure that when they go to war, they will win and they will retain control for the rest of eternity. Pulling out the mediator (that being the character that binds all the others together) in a very permanent way is the best answer I’ve found to break all the typical-YA-fantasy-stuffs up into something with more depth. It ruins everything in their universe, which is the best thing that can happen for a story.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I don’t double down on the emotional aspect – when thinking of deceased characters and pairings that didn’t end in happily ever after, I can only think of one that doesn’t upset me. Rose Quartz. From Steven Universe. And she most likely, despite being a female-coded sentient rock from space, was technically ‘straight.’ The character that makes it, though, is Pearl. Madly in love, almost definitely completely unrequited love, broken without her.

I know I can’t top that. Don’t think I’m trying to. I’d be happy just landing somewhere in the same ballpark.